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Hazard ready to play part as Madrid out to win back Champions League

Real Madrid start their Champions League campaign in Paris on Wednesday hoping that Eden Hazard can inspire them on the road to regaining the crown they held from 2016 until last June.

Madrid, 18 September 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Real Madrid start their Champions League campaign in Paris on Wednesday hoping that Eden Hazard can inspire them on the road to regaining the crown they held from 2016 until last June.

But the Chelsea signing has had an interrupted start to life in Madrid.

After an unconvincing substitute’s performance at the weekend he must wait to see if coach Zinedine Zidane sees fit to pitch him in at the Parc des Princes.

Hazard was accused of being overweight in pre-season by one prominent Spanish football journalist citing sources at the club, and he then picked up a hamstring injury which kept him out of the start of the season.

He came on at the hour mark on Saturday with Real Madrid winning 3-1 against Levante.

But it was a difficult debut for him as the visitors scored again to leave Madrid protecting a 3-2 lead in the final stages.

“I got a bit annoyed with him because he lost possession with a couple of back-heel flicks,” said Thibaut Courtois with a broad grin on his face after the match.

The Real Madrid keeper is a team-mate of Hazard’s for Belgium, as he was at Chelsea, and the criticism was passed off as friendly.

No one in Madrid doubts Hazard’s enormous quality, or that he’ll be a long-term success.

But when former Real Madrid player and coach Jorge Valdano said in his co-commentary of Saturday’s match: “What a compact body he has, and with his shirt outside his shorts even more so,” it was interpreted on social media as an insinuation that the former Chelsea midfielder is still not at his optimum weight.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez will certainly be keen to see Hazard play some part in Paris as the Spanish side go up against the club currently boasting the talents of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Neither of the forwards will play against Real Madrid – Neymar is suspended and Mbappe injured – and the third member of the PSG trident, Edinson Cavani, is also set to miss the game with a hip problem.

But PSG are still very much the club that have plaeyrs Madrid want, or have wanted in the past.

Neymar is an old Real Madrid target. He had a trial at the club in 2006 as a 14-year-old.

Barcelona won the race to sign him but when he left the Camp Nou in 2017 Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez publicly declared that he would have loved to have signed him.

Perez told Spanish radio at that year’s Balon d’Or gala: “Neymar would have more chance of winning the Balon d’Or at Madrid. Everyone knows I wanted to sign him.”

Most Real Madrid supporters would now rather see the club sign Mbappe who they are delighted to see missing from a game that will see Madrid have to do without captain Sergio Ramos who is suspended and Marcelo who is injured.

A first clean sheet of the season for Real Madrid and something special from Hazard will be what Real Madrid are looking for.

It will not be easy with the defensive absentees and with the Belgian yet to start a game this season.

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